The start of the America East men’s lacrosse schedule came with some considerable expectations for Stony Brook. The coaches’ preseason poll had the Seawolves down for second, but they were just a point behind Albany in the tabulation. Three voted them for first.
But the 2018 co-regular-season champs dropped their America East opener at Hartford. So that upped the stakes for Saturday’s home game against UMBC since there are just six conference games. Only four of the seven teams make the conference tournament, and the top seed gets to host it.
Tom Haun, Layton Harrell and Chris Pickel Jr. made sure Stony Brook did what needed to be done from its perspective. Haun scored four goals and Harrell and Pickel contributed three apiece in the Seawolves’ 14-7 win at LaValle Stadium.
They had lost that Hartford game the previous Saturday, 12-11. But their faith that they can finish first has yet to take a hit.
“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Haun said. “I mean, we’ve had that belief all season. I think this is a huge one for us.”
Retrievers coach Ryan Moran said the Seawolves “played faster than us.”
“They do a good job with their kids, and the kids play hard,” Moran said. “They’re sometimes the forgotten people of the America East.”
Stony Brook (4-4, 1-1) outshot UMBC (1-6, 0-2) by a count of 11-5 in the first quarter and jumped to a 3-0 lead.
“We really had to focus this week on playing much better team defense,” coach Jim Nagle said.
By halftime, Haun owned two goals and the Seawolves were pitching a 5-0 shutout. Mike Bollinger had made five of his 10 saves.
“He’s really been fantastic,” Nagle said.
Connor Grippe and Harrell scored in the first 3:25 of the third, so it was 7-0. UMBC scored the next three. But Haun countered just 18 seconds into the fourth.
Pickel followed with a run along the left side and converted for a 9-3 advantage. Brett McIntyre scored his third for the Retrievers. But Harrell responded by cutting in front for a goal, and Pickel raced toward the net and scored, making it 11-4 with 9:53 left.
“To go down 0-1 [in the conference], that’s tough,” Haun said. “But I thought we did a great job [with] a great week of practice and we bounced back. I think we’re ready to roll here for the rest of the league games.”